Systems of Manifestation
The purpose of philosophy is to start with something so obvious that it is hardly worth mentioning and to wind up with something so absurd that no one will believe it.
A system of manifestation is a domain of self-relevance which affects and is affected by other systems of manifestation.
These systems interact and co-evolve through structural coupling.
Structural coupling, in this model, is the process through which self-relevant activity is induced in mutually perturbed systems of manifestation.
Atoms, cells, trees, human beings and corporations are all expressions of systems of manifestation.
Each system has inputs, an internal structure and outputs.
Manifestation is a particular system's field of realization.
In this model there are no systemless manifestations and there is no external reality.
Manifestation does not exist, it only “inists” within a particular system.
This is the heart of the model.
Manifestation is neither external nor universal. It emerges one system at a time.
The root of manifestation is relation, not matter.
Each self-relevant system generates its own field of realization and each is equally valid.
Beyond each system is an unmanifest background.
Although it is “no-thing” this background acts like a dimensionless and frictionless membrane (or field, if you prefer) that surrounds and connects all systems of manifestation.
A system of manifestation evolves in a procession of discreet, whole-system states, each a slice of self-relevant organization without duration.
The field of realization is the system’s ongoing self-presentation of those discreet states.
Systems of manifestation have no outside.
The periphery of a system of manifestation is like the inner surface of a sphere that has no outer surface.
All of the system’s activity occurs on this boundary where its self-relevance meets its background.
Each system produces wavelike outputs which join with other systems' outputs in the universal background or membrane.
These outputs cross a system of manifestation's horizon at the limits of its self-relevant domain (a transparent boundary to this energy).
They reinforce harmonious waveforms and weaken dissonant ones within the affected system’s structure.
To its structurally coupled community a system of manifestation is what it does (that is, its outputs), rather than what it presents to itself.
There is no direct correlation between these outputs and the content within the systems they perturb.
System content is self-relevant.
Each system’s structure is nudged through this wave interference toward a functional congruence with the combined outputs from its structurally coupled community of systems.
All systems of manifestation process through a cycle of presentation and feedback.
Each perturbation changes the system’s structure and introduces uncertainty (as alternate possibilities of relation) into the system’s field of realization.
The uncertainty is resolved by system attention to, and actualizing of, one of those possibilities.
This creates a new distinction that envelops the perturbation.
A distinction, in this model, is a three-way relation between two system elements, usually previous distinctions, and the system of manifestation as a whole.
The system itself is not manifest, but it is entangled with its own productions, changing as the manifestation which emerges through it changes.
Each distinction relates to the system-as-a-whole through the center of mass of the entire web of distinctions.
This center is an emergent property of the whole system as well as a distinction within it.
It functions like a focus of attention through which the system witnesses and reacts to its own field of realization.
Each system, of course, can only directly know its own productions.
It self-relevantly represents as content its structurally coupled interactions with the domain beyond the system.
These representations provide functional rather than factual data about that domain.
A system of manifestation, whether simple or complex, has only one point of system feedback, its attention.
For instance, a human-level system cannot directly do anything.
It cannot lift a finger. It can only attend to distinctions that may lead there.
In this model, all systems of manifestation evolve along the paths of their attention.
The process cannot be stopped and it cannot be dropped.
The creation of a distinction starts a new cycle, triggering a cascade of reorganization that washes through the system’s structure.
The process between the beginning of a cycle and its presentation in the field of realization is compromised by new perturbations.
The interval of this cycle amounts to a processing delay proportional to the system’s complexity.
Within systems of manifestation at or above the organism level this delay is significant.
Such a system's manifested field of realization lags well behind the processing through which it emerges.
Ultimately every change changes everything.
New distinctions in the system structure generate new system outputs, new self-relevant responses to inputs and a new field of realization.
Manifestation is essentially reflective.
By responding to inputs systems of manifestation produce self-relevant reflections of what perturbs them.
Each new distinction adds an element to the system’s self-relevant web and increases its complexity.
Complexity refers in this model to the number of distinct ways that a system of manifestation can be self-relevantly ordered.
Each distinction can be imagined as a node in the system.
The more nodes in the co-relevant matrix, the more ways they can be connected.
For instance, there are a limited number of possible system states at the atomic level of complexity, few enough that they can be listed in a table of elements and printed on a single sheet of paper.
At the molecular level, the next complexity level up, the DNA molecule’s hundreds of millions of base pairs can be arranged in many ways.
A flower is a far more complex system than the mountain it adorns.
On the other hand, systems of manifestation are constrained by their self-relevant process.
New elements in the system arise only in relation to what is already established.
The system as it is frames the system it becomes.
The greater the web of established relationships, the tighter the framing.
Both realizable possibilities and excluded possibilities increase along with complexity.
In other words, the more complex the system the larger its set of actualizable states and the smaller its set of un-actualizable but still possible states.
All systems of manifestation are fundamentally equal, differing only in their complexity.
In this model metasystems emerge through the interactions of simpler systems.
As an example of metasystem development, a hundred newly introduced children left to themselves on a playing field will soon self-organize.
The children (in this model that means complex systems of manifestation at the human level) will generate outputs in accord with their system structures; timidity, boldness, etc.
Structurally coupled feedback triggers the emergence of new self-relevant distinctions within each of the child/systems representing the interaction between them.
This is an ad hoc meta-level system.
It is distributed within the systems through which it emerges and functions as an organizing framework for that structurally coupled community of systems.
The children's behaviors become explicable, to some degree, only within the context of the new emergent system.
Detail is lost both ways across the metasystem/subsystem boundary.
Each level’s domain of interactions is only partially represented within the other.
The metasystem is distributed within its subsystems like a hologram, whole in each but in diminished detail.
Therefore the subsystems’ distinctions concerning the metasystem domain are vague.
And the metasystem attends to and creates self-relevant distinctions from distillations of subsystem activity.
Each system of manifestation attends to its own field of realization at its own level.
A human-level system of manifestation is nested within a staggeringly complex community of subsystems and metasystems that are so closely coupled that the continuance of one level can depend upon the continuance of another.
For the most part a human-level system is unaware of, and unnecessary to, what goes on within its subsystems.
Its sense of participation at these levels is often just a narrative, a rationalization after-the-fact.
Distinctions emerge within subsystems that represent the spatial/ temporal domain of their interactions.
In other words each system creates a system-specific representation of space/time, that is, of the field within which its content is realized.
Space/time is limited by and varies with the system’s complexity.
For instance, within the field of realization of a human-level system it takes a photon about eight minutes to get from the sun to the earth.
Within the field of realization at the photon’s level of complexity space/time is different.
Basically, being there is being here and then is now.
Both space/times are valid expressions of system states that have no external size or duration.
In this model there are no privileged viewpoints.
Systems at the cellular-level or greater are autopoietic.
An autopoietic system is a network of processes which through its interactions and transformations continuously regenerates and realizes the network of processes that produced it.
These systems are actively attending the paths of their own continuance.
Intent is not required. It is a choice without a chooser.
Complex distinctions like those created within systems at the cellular level are shortcuts or rudimentary models.
Models are useful exactly because they are shorter (express in fewer system states) than what they represent.
Through them the system, in a sense, can jump ahead of its own processing to anticipate the manner of its unfolding.
There are obvious system benefits. Some of these distinction/shortcuts might differentiate eating from being eaten.
However, predictive accuracy diminishes as the complexity of the processes modeled increases.
With complex systems different initial states can lead to the same outcome and different outcomes can emerge out of the same initial states.
Sometimes there is no useful shortcut that describes a complex system.
The only way to understand it is to let it run and see what it does.
Shortcuts entail the continuity of the system's focus of attention across the span of the system-state changes distinguished by the shortcut.
Attention is projected or stretched in a way, becoming more like a viewpoint that reemerges within each new system state.
The continuity of the viewpoint becomes an abiding sense of self within systems at the human level.
In this model the sense of self, the “I” is a system function with limited authority and responsibility.
It cannot change what has already manifested in the field of realization because that is the system’s untouchable past.
Its phenomenological present is advisory feedback only.
It can influence but cannot control the content of succeeding system states.
Those states are subject to perturbations from the entire community of peer and nested-level systems.
At a certain point in its evolution a system of manifestation naturally creates a distinction to represent where it ends and where what is not it begins.
The model of a split field of realization containing an inside and an outside is adopted first because it is simpler than holistic models.
However, any such separations or boundaries are representational rather than ontological.
For instance, storm clouds over the hills, coyotes singing in the night, the smell of sweet jasmine or the thoughts that arise about them are presentations within an internal and indivisible web of self-relevant relations.
Although these manifestations are triggered by outputs from other systems they are, in this model, inside a particular field of realization.
There is no outside inside manifestation.
Each system of manifestation is a pocket of self-relevant order that triggers, to a greater or lesser degree, disorder in other systems.
Order here is disorder there.
And the further a system gets from equilibrium the greater the potential entropic cost for its structurally coupled community.
The unity of a complex system of manifestation is sustained not only by its attention to its own continuance but also by the rebalancing that occurs through structural coupling.
Self-relevant processes build and preserve system unity while inputs nudge the system toward sustainability within the broader community by weakening dissonant structures.
The system evolves on this boundary between self-organization and deselection, between processes that close it in and those that keep it open.
All systems of manifestation autonomically resist alterations in their core elements because each system-state frames the next.
There also is a system momentum arising from the continuity of the viewpoint across the system-states needed to represent complex distinctions.
This natural systemic conservatism tends to absorb minor changes and to frame out major ones.
Functional congruence through cultural-level metasystems increases this resistance to change by encasing their subsystems in an invisible, self-verifying feedback loop.
From the moment of birth onward a human-level system functions inside a language-based cultural story that acts as a lens or a world view, preceding the world viewed.
Assumptions embedded in the story are so deep that the sense of self expresses, for the most part, as if it were a character within that story.
Languages, in both words and grammar, reinforce the cultural stories within which they arise.
Words are functionally congruent shortcuts that are necessarily static and incomplete. The word “dog”, for instance, passes over a lot.
And the grammatical form of subject-verb-object, for example, reinforces the cultural story of a separate self doing things in an external world.
As complexity increases so does resistance to rebalancing.
This eventually leads to an unavoidable system crisis.
Pressure builds until rebalancing, when it inevitably comes, can be catastrophic.
Those cultural stories that place a very high system value on an entity-like sense of self disrupt their structurally coupled community more than others.
According to this model these stories dominate through self-verifying feedback until they are abruptly deselected.
Order taken is always taken back.
Both common courtesy within the universal community and enlightened self-interest recommend cooperation.
The crisis is a necessary evolutionary passage.
The general trend of evolution is inward, toward system self-knowledge and the internalization of authority and responsibility.
According to this model, this evolutionary passage marks the end of the era of external man.
Systems of manifestation beyond a certain level of complexity self-regulate to sustain the balance that occurs autonomically in simpler systems.
This evolutionary crisis may appear to be external; financial, social or environmental, but it is happening for each system in the only place that it can, within each system.
It is happening at the metasystem level of The Earth where the new nurturing human being is much anticipated.
Evolution pulls as well as pushes.
It is also happening at the human level where each system can resist or cooperate with the process.
But, like a birth, it is going forward with or without consent.
This is an experiential model that can be “run”, somewhat like software, on human-level systems of manifestation.
By importing and running the model these systems, including those that want to assist in the “birth”, can prepare for the exciting work ahead.